In this article I propose to explore two issues. The first concerns what kinds of contributions academics can make to reducing poverty. I argue that academics can contribute in a number of ways, and I seek to spell out the diversity of the options available. I concentrate on four ways in which these contributions might differ.
My second aim is to outline some norms that should inform any academic involvement in activities that seek to reduce poverty. I set out six proposals. These concern: (1) the need to construct coalitions among people with different ethical frameworks; (2) the value of constructing nonideal theory on the basis of our best understanding of an ideal world; (3) the need for integrated analysis that connects antipoverty initiatives to other areas of moral concern; (4) the vital importance of interdisciplinarity; (5) the need for epistemic modesty and revisability; and (6) the need for accountability.
Simon Caney is Professor in Political Theory at the University of Oxford and a Fellow and Tutor at Magdalen College. He is the author of Justice Beyond Borders (2005) and has published widely on contemporary political philosophy. He is a coeditor of Climate Ethics (2010) and was also a member of the working party that wrote the Nuffield Council on Bioethics report Biofuels: Ethical Issues (2011). His current research interests are primarily in environmental, global, and intergenerational justice. He is currently completing two books: Global Justice and Climate Change (with Derek Bell) and On Cosmopolitanism. email@example.com
* I would like to thank Luis Cabrera for organizing the event in London on October 17, 2011, at which this article was first presented, as well as the members of the audience at that event; the members of various NGOs, think tanks, international organizations, and trade unions (from whom I have learned a very great deal); and the ESRC for a Climate Change Leadership Fellowship on Equity and Climate Change, which enabled me to write this article. For excellent written comments I am extremely grateful to Aveek Bhattacharya, James Christensen, Iason Gabriel, and the two referees for this journal (who shed their anonymity and revealed themselves to be Robyn Eckersley and Leif Wenar).